EP&M Online Satire

Grief Counselors in A Gallery Of Ethopaths:
A Requested Section
Dr. Joseph S. Salemi
Department of Classics, Hunter College, CUNY

       This new section of my verse satire A Gallery Of Ethopaths has been requested by the poet and painter Sally Cook.  Ms. Cook wrote to me last month mentioning the ubiquity of grief counselors in modern America, and how they are symptomatic of the spineless, feelgood narcissism of contemporary life. She asked that I strafe them.  The result follows below.
     I should add, as a preliminary note, that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with comforting the afflicted and the troubled.  In fact, it is one of the spiritual works of mercy enjoined upon all Christians.  What I am satirizing is the unwarranted medicalization and psychotherapization of this practice in the developed world.  What was originally a compassionate response to human suffering has now become professionalized into a paid practice for credentialled experts.  This sort of transformation (which is happening in scores of different fields today) is truly degrading, and a measure of how low we have sunk in our craven worship of science.
     We have sex counselors, marriage counselors, diet counselors, aging counselors, anger-management counselors, creativity counselors, drug-use counselors, and now grief counselors.  What's next?  Breathing counselors? These are all signs of deep psychic sickness in the Western world.

               Grief Counselors

A stupid and bizarre belief
Is that when you're immersed in grief
You need trained experts at your side
To make sure all your tears are dried.
Experience traumatic shock
And you're surrounded by a flock
Of quacksalvers and therapists
Who stroke your head and rub your wrists
And tell you "It'll be OK—-
We're here to hold your hand today."
Grief counselors is what they're called—-
They come when life has left you sprawled
On the deck in stark defeat
Unable to get on your feet.
They burble forth all sorts of tripe,
Cliched crap of every stripe,
Psychobabble, New Age cant
Designed to foster and implant
The notion that your psychic sores
Can be relieved by flapping jaws.
They fill your ears with mindless chatter
And leave your spirits even flatter.
Times past, when you had tears to spend
A family member or a friend
Was there to wipe your nose's dribbling.
He didn't spout some half-assed drivelling
Pap about grief's "seven stages."
True empathy is what assuages
Human pain and desolation—-
Not an abstract explanation
Dished out by a "grief advisor"
Who really isn't any wiser
Than your sibling or your chum.
This "counselor" is just a crum
Who gets rich off of human pain
By turning it to private gain.
Remember: When you suffer loss
It means you're hanging on the cross.
The reason you're upset and sad
Is simply this:  That something bad
Has happened to you.  Why the heck
Should you put up with brainless dreck?
You want some therapeutic ass
To tell you that "This too shall pass"?
You really need some prating drip
To help keep stiff your upper lip?
A poseur with a Ph.D.
To dandle you upon his knee
And rattle off a lot of bull?
I'd rather stuff my ears with wool
And suffer grief in stoic silence.
These "experts" and their gab do violence
To the dignity of sorrow.
In fact, I think that I shall borrow
Words from a saintly meditation
Written for those in expiation:
When you're struck by sorrow's rod
Be silent, and commune with God.
Skip the jargon from the nerds--
Grief's not cured by soothing words.

                            Copyright © 2005 by Joseph S. Salemi
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